virtual insanity

One thing that stands out for me in this weeks reading was the area of virtual reality.  As someone who spends way too much time on games such as Doom and Myst, I can attest to the attractiveness of virtual reality and associated media.

Two things we have to keep in mind are that one, I believe virtual reality has hit a wall in terms of growth and development.  I am not sure if it is a technology barrier or a lack of interest, but nonetheless, we have seen less of a presence in new media.  Two, we are unable to climb out of the “uncanny valley”.

Uncanny valley, first described by Masahiro Mori says that as artificially created human representation approaches 100% likeness, humans are repelled from them.  It is interesting to see that some of the popular media such as droids from Star Wars and Cylons from Battlestar Galactica all are far from looking 100% human.  On the other hand, movies such as Final Fantasy and Beowulf really look “fake”.

I’m not sure how or if it is even possible to provide total virtual immersion.  3D movies and 3D bluray is just one small step towards that direction but maybe it would take something like Matrix’s direct cerebral cortex connection to truly experience virtual reality.

4 responses to “virtual insanity

  1. It’s interesting that you note how VR has become static and that the public has become resistant to its materialization because one area VR *has* been flourishing is in therapy/rehabilitation for veterans dealing with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). According to several studies and articles, by becoming immersed in a pretty accurate, virtual simulation of Iraq or Afghanistan, veterans are allowed to recreate, re-explore, and rethink what they experienced, thereby reducing the overwhelming presence and significance of traumatic memories in their heads.

  2. I agree with the comment above. I don’t think VR has hit a wall really because people are still researching and developing ways to enhance VR technology. Like what was said above, I think bluray and especially movies in 3D are a step in total immersion. While watching Avatar in 3D I got really into the movie and felt like I was running around in a huge forest. Total immersion will definitely take a lot more work, but I still think there is a lot of interest in such technology.

  3. VR in terms of mass media is stalling although I agree that it is thriving in specific area. We are just at the infancy of VR adaptation. For example, movies such as ‘Caroline’ offers a pair of 3D glasses for home viewing when you buy the DVD. It is not at par with Avatar, but it is a step at the right direction. However, a lot of people are not adopted by this technology. Simply put, people get motion sickness by watching Avatar, going to IMAX movies, or simply playing Doom.

    In order to reach critical mass, I agree that it will take a lot of work and development. However, without overcoming something like motion sickness, the experience of total immersion will fall a bit short (much like the uncanny valley).

  4. One thing that I find interesting about the VR wall is that as new media once spelled certain doom for the table top, die rolling, role playing game, as VR hits a wall, mmorpg and other new media technologies have re-energized and remediated the old school forms.